ECONOMY

In Brief

Coca-Cola Hellenic seen doubling Q1 profit Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the world’s second-largest bottler of Coke drinks, is expected to double its first-quarter net profit, benefiting from cost cutting and currency movements. The average forecast in a Reuters poll of 10 banks and brokerages was for net profit of 14 million euros ($18.82 million), almost double the figure for the same period last year. The global downturn has led to consumers slashing spending on soft drinks and caused currency devaluations since the last quarter of 2008, which hurt CCH’s business. Despite the tough conditions, the bottler managed to post a slight rise in profit last year, thanks to cost savings of about 140 million euros and said it would continue to keep a tight rein on costs over the next three years. CCH, 23.3 percent-owned by Coca-Cola Co, forecast that the situation would remain difficult in the first half of 2010 and that core profit performance would improve in the second half of the year. It projected free cash flow would reach about 1.5 billion euros for the 2010-12 period. First-quarter volume is seen down 3.7 percent year-on-year to 424.4 million unit cases versus an annual 8 percent decline in the last quarter of 2009. Analysts said consumer trends in Russia, Austria, Switzerland and Italy improved but this could not compensate for softness in Greece and Ireland. Earnings are scheduled for release on Thursday. (Reuters) Cyprus tourism revenues rise in March, signaling recovery NICOSIA (AFP) – Revenues from Cyprus’s vital tourism sector climbed 14.3 percent in March signaling a grassroots recovery for the Mediterranean island’s struggling economy, official figures showed yesterday. Tourism receipts had declined for 14 consecutive months and March’s improvement follows the first upsurge in arrivals since December 2008. In March, revenue from holidaymakers increased to 65.6 million euros, up from 57.4 million euros in the same month of 2009. Income from tourism, which accounts for 12 percent of gross domestic product, dropped to an estimated 1.49 billion euros for the whole of last year, down from 1.79 billion euros in 2008 and 1.85 billion euros in 2007. The turnaround last month also helped to put a shine on the first quarter ending in March, with income rising 3.5 percent to 129.2 million euros from 124.8 million euros during the same period last year. The average daily spending by tourists in March was 68.10 euros and the average stay was 9.3 days. Israelis were the biggest spenders at 194.50 euros a day, while the British were the most frugal, spending just 51.5 euros a day on average. Romanian energy Romania’s anti-trust watchdog said yesterday it is probing a government plan to consolidate state-run electricity producers into two firms, and blocking the plan from going forward for now. Officials have said the restructuring, approved earlier this year after repeated delays, could lower energy costs for consumers and help them compete with regional power giants such as Czech power company CEZ. Critics argue the changes, which mix costlier coal-fired energy with cheaper hydro and nuclear power, could instead protect loss-making enterprises by merging them with profitable units and scare off badly needed foreign investment. (Reuters)